For some reason many anime choose to show sparks and rainbows coming out of their mouths instead of puking like in MHA and Naruto.
In my hero academia, Uraraka Ochako has the power to make things float as if they were in a zero-gravity environment. If she’s not careful with her power, however, she spews rainbow-colored glittering vomit. Glittering rainbows are not part of his power; this is how vomit tends to be presented in anime.
The idea of showing vomit in such a ridiculous way is something that really doesn’t happen anywhere else. In the West, cartoons like family guy and Total drama fully embrace the vomit and present it in all its disgusting glory. Conversely, it’s important to understand how Japan deals with vomiting scenes and why so many of them come out so…pretty.
The simple cause of this phenomenon is censorship. The Act of Vomiting was deemed inappropriate for broadcast in certain television timeslots in Japan. There are many reasons for this, like how showing vomiting could cause real nausea in viewers. As such, any anime that struggles to have a puke scene needs to find ways to make it more digestible for mainstream audiences.
Theatrical movies can fare a little better in this regard. The movie 2021 Beautiful has its traumatized protagonist Suzu trying to sing, only to make herself sick and throw up. The scene is graphic and difficult to watch, but the film can present it without censorship, as it is not bound by the same limitations as TV shows in Japan.
The idea of beautifying vomit was popularized by Ashita no Joe. In this boxing anime, when Joe vomits during one of his most intense fights, it sparkles. Since then, turning vomit into sparkles or a rainbow has become relatively standard.
More graphic anime like tokyo ghoul and The attack of the Titans must find other ways to keep as much of the vomit off screen as possible. The creators won’t do something as stupid as making it look like rainbows because that would kill the dark vibe they established. Instead, they’ll often have the camera turned away from the character, with the audience only hearing the gags in the background. There may be a shot of the character after he’s already been through the worst, but that’s it.
It’s important to keep in mind that while the Japanese public may be opposed to vomiting, that doesn’t mean people are turning away from it altogether. In fact, there is a girl in D-frag! whose whole running gag is that she can’t stop throwing up. She has a real name, but people only remember her as “Barfy”. Of course, since this is a comedy series, his puking is presented as various little flowers coming out of his mouth. Comedy vomiting, while still censored, is therefore perfectly acceptable.
There are also shows like Gintama who alternate their politics depending on the scene. This series can swing between comedy and drama, and it changes its entire presentation to reflect that. Most of the time, the series will have its vomit blurred with standard pixels. This censorship is also used for poop and genitalia, and everything is presented that way for comedic purposes.
However, an exception to this trend comes with the “Yoshiwara in Flames” arc. In one of the most important fights of the series, Shinpachi was punched in the stomach by Abuto so hard that it caused projectiles to vomit inside him. To reflect the gravity of the situation, not only was Shinpachi’s vomit uncensored, but his body movements were uncannily realistic.
A similar treatment of censorship occurs in naruto. In Gaara’s tragic origin story, something happened to him that was so horrifying that it made him vomit, but he conveniently let it go. Meanwhile, in the purely comic storyline “Mecha Naruto” filler arc, Yamato’s glittering rainbow vomit propelled him into orbit. It all depends on the mood to be achieved and the best way to achieve it.
How anime vomit is presented is entirely circumstantial. Sometimes it’s rainbows, sparkles, or even both, while other times it’s real vomit. Sometimes it’s something in between. It all depends on who is watching, what is allowed for the format and the tone set.
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